It was a chilly fall morning, the perfect weather for warm mittens and hats and scarves. The light at that time of day made everything glow. The colors of the last of the fall leaves seemed brighter, and the light streaming past houses and fences and branches shone a spotlight on unexpected things. As Charlie and Isaac walked through the drifts of crunchy fall leaves, one of these wandering morning sunbeams hit a dark greenish rock on the sidewalk.
“Look, that rock is glowing.” Charlie hurried forward and scooped up the rock to show his dad.
Charlie’s back was mostly turned against the light, and the light touched the edges of his hair, giving him a halo. Isaac smiled and looked into the mitten nest. “It is a nice rock. It’s sort of leaf shaped. I like it.”
Charlie looked down at the rock. In the shade, it wasn’t nearly as interesting. “I guess so. Can you hold onto it for me? I would have to take off my mittens to unzip my pockets.”
“Sure.” Isaac took the rock and they continued their walk. When they walked in the door, Marianne was waiting for them. “There you are! I was about to go look for you.”
“Did you need help with something?” Isaac unwrapped his scarf and started folding it up.
“You both forgot, didn’t you?”
Charlie’s eyes grew wide and he grinned. “It’s greenhouse day!” He looked down at his pile of coat-mittens-scarf-hat, and shuffled over a step to tug off his shoes without untying them. “I need to change into my garden club tee-shirt!”
Meanwhile, Isaac put his folded scarf into his coat pocket and found the rock. “Wait,” he called.
Charlie was already halfway down the hall, but he stopped and looked back, eyebrows raised. Isaac held out the rock. Charlie rolled his eyes, but he came back to snatch it from Isaac and hurry back down the hall.
“How long will you be gone?” Isaac asked.
Marianne shrugged. “It depends on how many people signed up to give tours. We may be late. Charlie has a list of questions to ask. This may be the year we finally decide to build our own.”
“I could come along and take measurements.” Isaac wasn’t as interested in the contents of all the greenhouses, but he liked the idea of a new building project.
“We can do that. I already have the tape measure in my purse. You really need to get the doorknob fixed before someone gets stuck in the bathroom for good.” Marianne patted his arm. Then she turned to yell down the hallway to Charlie. “Are you coming? It’s time to go.”
Charlie came racing around the corner, wearing his garden club shirt. He wiggled back into his shoes while pulling on the coat-mittens-scarf-hat pile. Marianne dressed warmly as well, and opened the door. In a moment they were off on their adventure.
It didn’t take long to change out the old, worn-out doorknob. Isaac twisted the knob, and watched to see if everything was working well. It was.
Next job on his fix-it list was the drawer pull on Charlie’s dresser. He examined it a few days ago when Charlie complained about it. It was cracked down the center and had to be replaced.
When he entered Charlie’s room, his eyes were drawn right away to the leaf-shaped rock on the floor by one of the legs of the loft bed. It was sitting in a stray beam of sunlight and looked like it was glowing. Isaac smiled and picked it up to move it to the desk. As he straightened up, he noticed an odd twig that looked like it was growing out of the bed leg.
He leaned in and examined it. How strange. That definitely had not been there before. He set the rock on the desk and decided to worry about it later.
Turning to the dresser, he fixed the drawer pull. It didn’t take long. When he turned around again, the twig had sprouted leaves.
Isaac stepped closer and looked more closely. There was another twig growing higher up on the other side of the bed leg. He turned and narrowed his eyes. The desk chair beside the still-glowing rock had also sprouted.
He picked up the rock and took it out to the garden, just in case. Things out there were supposed to grow. He came back in to clean up his tools. The bed and desk chair were already back to normal.
Later that day, after he cooked dinner for Marianne and Charlie, they all sat down to eat. Charlie happily told them about all his favorite greenhouse features and what he’d grow if he had his very own greenhouse.
“I took a lot of notes and measurements,” Marianne said. “I also have some phone numbers and permission to come and look again if we need to.”
Isaac smiled. “Perfect.” Then he turned to Charlie. “I had to take your rock outside.”
“The greenish one from our walk. The one that looked like a leaf?”
Charlie shrugged. “Oh. That one. Huh. Let me tell you more about the greenhouses.” He didn’t mention the rock again.
The next day, Isaac looked out in the garden when he was filling the bird feeder. The rock was gone. He was okay with that.